Not All Legal Leads Are Created Equal
We’ve all had that terrible consultation — the consultation that makes you want to start charging astronomical amounts for consultations so you never have to deal with one of these difficult people ever again. The consultation where the person alternates between screaming and crying. The consultation where, of course, they have no money to actually retain a lawyer.
No matter what your source of legal leads, every source carries the risk of bringing you one of these types of consults. But like with many things, the important view to keep is a broad one — the quality of leads generally from a source, rather than any single anecdotal bull experience, no matter how terrible. In statistical parlance, don’t be fooled by the small sample size of one unfortunate consult.
So how should you measure legal lead quality? And how do you compare lead quality across different sources?
Why Some Leads Are Better Than Others
Vocabulary time: what you may call a lead (someone who shows up for a consultation and is actually interested in your services) may not be the same thing as what your marketing agency calls it. The latter is a marketing qualified lead (MQL), the former would be a sales qualified lead (SQL).
There is also all sorts of parlance around where someone falls into a “funnel.” Yes, it’s similar terminology to what you would use for an oil change. People who are desperately in need of your services, who have already researched and shopped around, and are ready to hire a lawyer right now are considered lower funnel, whereas those who are window shopping and thinking about maybe getting a lawyer someday are considered higher funnel. The reason for this is pretty intuitive: there are more window shoppers than there are actual buyers.
Higher Funnel. Lower Funnel.
Depending on where you source your leads, you may get higher funnel leads. These are not bad — they take more work to turn into a client, they will have more questions and want to research more, and they will close at a lower rate. But, they should be cheaper. If you are running your own marketing, these higher funnel leads may come in through social media or they may have come in through your website after you put up informational blogs or articles that they found through a search engine, and that reader is now calling you to follow up with more questions.
Lower funnel leads are the ones that most people consider to be better legal leads. They are also the most expensive leads in most cases. These people are ready to hire today, you just have to convince them that you are good enough and make it easy for them to sign up. Generally paid search advertising (PPC) and lead providers like Legal Brand Marketing, are strong sources for these types of leads. People on search engines who have clicked on your paid ad have probably put in a very intent-minded query, such as “personal injury attorney near me.” Lead providers like us both attract lower funnel leads and turn higher funnel leads into people ready to convert — meaning more lower funnel leads.
Cost Per Lead or Cost Per Client
Some leads are higher funnel, some are lower funnel, some are more expensive, some are cheaper. If all these types of leads sound like apples and oranges, it’s because they sort of are — you need a common denominator to compare them.
For your law firm, this may be a cost per consultation. Or you may want to make it a cost per qualified consultation, to factor out those leads that show up and ruin your day. You may decide to go with cost per actual client, though that one can be skewed by who you have handle the consultations. (At one firm, we started tracking this and realized that one of the senior partners, who was a brilliant, decorated trial attorney, was absolutely terrible at closing consultations, whereas one of our senior associates closed almost everyone he brought in.)
Whichever metric you pick, it should provide a normalized common denominator between your different lead sources so that you can measure lead quality and cost. This is because a lot of firms make the mistake of assuming that because one lead provider is cheaper, that they are better. Or, they erroneously cut the lead provider because the cheap leads are not all converting, but, had worked the math, they would’ve realized that the cost per qualified consultation was still significantly lower on that cheap source to a seemingly “better” and more expensive source that closed at a higher rate.
Diversify Your Lead Sources
One of the most overlooked tips for building your book of cases is to diversify your lead sources. Many law firms will find one source that they love, such as pay-per-click advertising, and stick with it even when costs skyrocket or seasonality kills the volume. By diversifying your lead sources across search, social, lead providers, local SEO (the maps on search engines), content marketing, and practice areas (if you have more than one), you will experience fewer disruptions due to seasonality. You will also have multiple reference points for the performance of any individual channel — if you are starting to feel like one channel is performing extremely well or extremely poor, you will have five other channels to reference against it.
To get started with a leading lead provider, check out our legal leads for your practice area today.